NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a dire warning Thursday about the ongoing federal government shutdown.
In a news conference, de Blasio said we are “entering a full-blown crisis” and that it’s about to have what he calls “massive effects” on New York City.
“In my time as mayor, this city has faced terrorist attacks. We have faced storms, natural disasters. We have faced all sorts of challenges in government. And every time I’ve stood before all of you, I’ve been able to tell the people of New York City that things are going to be OK, and I’ve been able to do that honestly and with a whole heart. Unfortunately, today I have to tell you that things are not OK when it comes to the federal shutdown. That we are now entering nothing less than a full blown crisis that is about to have massive effects on the people of New York City, and it is a crisis with no end in sight. It’s a crisis that will get worse and worse with each passing month,” de Blasio said. “When it comes to the shutdown of our federal government, things are starting to spin out of control and things are happening that no city and no state could possibly compensate for, and this is absolutely uncharted territory. I need everyone to understand this and to feel this: In the entire history of this city, nothing like this has ever happened before. We’ve never seen a federal shutdown of this length and we’ve never seen a federal shutdown with no end in sight.”
Watch: De Blasio On Impact Of Federal Government Shutdown
De Blasio said the city can’t replace the loss of federal funding, which he called a “manufactured crisis.”
On March 1, at least 2 million New Yorkers will be “directly and personally negatively affected by the shutdown.”
On that date, New Yorkers will lose $500 million in federal support every month — New Yorkers like Omega, who didn’t wish to share her last name.
“I don’t know how I’m going to survive even though I work full time,” she told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Omega is a single mother of six, and among the 1.6 million New Yorkers who receive help from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
“There’s no way to look at your child and say you might have to go to bed hungry tonight because food stamps stopped,” she said.
De Blasio said New York City would run out of money to address the crisis in a few months.
“We’re literally watching as the federal government starts to starve its people,” de Blasio said. “What I also need to emphasize to everyone is that it gets worse each month. This is not a crisis that just hits and then levels off. In fact it starts to cascade.”
The fear federal employees have had since December is now spreading to the social service office in Greenwich Village.
“I’m hearing about the federal workers selling their cars, selling their belongings to try to pay their bills and eat and I don’t really know at this point,” Canarsie resident Lavonia Miller said.
Miller says losing her subsidized housing and school lunches for her three children would be crippling.
“I would have to pack food from home which would take away from the food at home I’m trying to feed them with,” she said.
According to the mayor’s office, the following programs are at risk:
- The fight against opioids – The City has trained more than 1,000 health care providers on prescribing buprenorphine to their patients suffering from opioid addiction. Some new prescribers have reported experiencing a delay in receiving approval from the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine since the shutdown started. If you are a provider or a patient in need of help, please call 311 or 1-888-NYC-WELL to find a buprenorphine prescriber near you.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps – City residents receive nearly $230 million in federal SNAP benefits per month. Nearly 1.6 million New Yorkers rely on this critical benefit to feed their families. The federal government has authorized release of February SNAP/food stamps benefits as early as today. People should plan accordingly, as this is not an additional benefit.
- Section 8 – NYCHA and HPD respectively spend $97 million and $34 million in federal dollars per month for this program. More than 280,000 New Yorkers utilize Section 8 to pay their rent.
- Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) – The City receives approximately $1 million in federal funding per month for this program. New York City relies on these funds to help fight homelessness.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – City residents receives $26 million in federal funding for this program. More than 300,000 New Yorkers and their families rely on this program to put food on the table.
- Continuum of Care – The City spends $5 million in federal dollars per month for this program. This program provides rental assistance for more than 4,000 homeless New Yorkers.
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – NYCHA spends $79 million per month for operating expenses such as salaries. Approximately 10,000 NYCHA employees will be affected by the government shutdown.
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA) – The City receives more than $4 million in federal funding per month for this program. This is the only federal program dedicated to the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Thousands of New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS rely on these funds for housing and support services.
- School Lunch – The City spends $43 million per month for this program. More than 1 million New York students rely on this program.
The city is sending most food stamp recipients double checks in January to cover people through February. The mayor warns that’s the last they’ll get until the shutdown is over.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to help support federal workers impacted by the shutdown.
“It is unconscionable that the president is holding hostage the wages and livelihoods of hard-working Americans in an attempt to advance his hateful and regressive political agenda,” Cuomo said. “While the federal administration steps on the backs of workers, New York State is stepping up to help in any way we can. These measures will ensure furloughed federal workers in New York receive prompt and special one-on-one services so they can obtain the vital safety-net benefits they need during this hard time.”
The state’s Department of Labor has been directed to speed up the unemployment insurance application process and to extend call center hours. To apply for unemployment insurance benefits, click here.
Some furloughed workers may be eligible for emergency assistance through the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which can potentially help pay rent or buy food. To find out if you’re eligible for that assistance, click here.
New Yorkers experiencing hardships can visit nyc.gov/federalshutdown to stay updated on the latest developments and to find a variety of City programs that provide relief, including food pantries, and eviction prevention